Hike to the Summit of Mt. Tamalpais

Verna Dunshee Trail

This easy 1.2 mile loop sets you up for amazing sunset viewing and scenic landscape photography close to San Francisco. At Mt. Tam's highest peak, you'll be just above the clouds as they roll in. 

Mt. Tam is a large park with plenty of amazing viewpoints, but the East routes and the East Peak are best for sunsets. Once you're at the top, it's an amazing spot to view a large number of Marin trails, which can help you can get a head start on planning your next adventure. At 2,570 feet, this is the highest point on Mount Tamalpais. The good news is that the path to get there is pretty easy and partially paved. Due to the short distance of the Plankwalk Trail, it's usually more scenic and a little more fun to do the Verna Dunshee loop first.

As you start the Dunshee trail, you'll notice that's there are two options at the start. There's a switchback path or a set of stairs to get you going on the trail. Choose whichever you're more comfortable with. Along the trail, enjoy the views of Northern Marin, San Francisco, and the East Bay. After about 0.6 miles, this trail will come full circle at the parking lot and allow you to head uphill and jump onto the Plankwalk.

After roughly a quarter of a mile, you'll reach the summit and fire lookout. From here, spend as much time as you'd like and then head back to the car the way you came.

If you're riding or hiking all the way up, it can be a bit of a grind to get to the peak, but it's definitely worth it once you catch the sunset. If you choose to ride, you can head up E. Ridgecrest Blvd from Pan Toll Road. If you're hiking, jump on the Matt Davis Trail to the Nora Trail to Old Railroad Grade, finally heading up on Fern Creek Trail to the East Peak parking area.

If it's a nice day and you want to eat outside, you can head to the Mountain Home Inn for a burger and a beer. Just as a disclaimer, it is a little pricey.

Pack List

  • $8 Parking Fee for the lot
  • Camera
  • Athletic Shoes
  • Water
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RT Distance 1.2 Miles
Activities Cycling, Photography, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Loop
Features
Bathrooms
Groups
Romantic
Scenic

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Easy & Quick

We arrived not really knowing what to expect, and were pleasantly surprised with a nice, simple hike leading to some gorgeous views of the city and the bay. If you're in the Headlands, I would definitely suggest you do this hike!

One of my favorite spots with much to offer

I love that you can come here and be greeted to a variety of views. Whether it's views of the water in the distance, low fog hanging around the hills, or the curvy roads that photographers just can't get enough of, it's a beautiful spot that's only about a 1.5 hour drive from the city. Check out Super Duper burgers on the way back.

Photo & Family Friendly

We can't get enough of these trails! This loop is wonderful for families with kids in tow, along with incredible photography opportunities as you mention. =) Love it!


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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